The Markaz

IMG_4065‘The Markaz’ center for youth in Jaffa was established in 2006 as a natural development of the organization’s involvement in the mixed city of Jaffa. The alternative the ‘Markaz’ seeks to construct is one based on the creation of a bi-national framework encouraging political education and youth activism.

This framework stresses the need to develop a community of young activists with a bi-national approach, out of the understanding that such frameworks are increasingly rare across Israel’s socio-political spectrum. Moreover, we believe such structures are absolutely necessary in order to bring about a joint struggle for the building of a different future.

The ‘Markaz’ creates a framework for encounter and joint action of Arab and Jewish youth from the mixed cities of Jaffa, Ramle and Lud, as well as from Bat Yam and south Tel Aviv, as part of the understanding that the lives of these communities are interrelated. Youth living in these communities come from the social periphery and usually from middle and low socio-economic backgrounds. The Arab youth, in this context, suffer from the double oppression of their economic and their national background. The Jewish youth also come from excluded groups, mostly new immigrants and Mizrahi Jews. Encounters between these youth rarely take place, whilst there lacks bi-national frameworks in the area that can prove successful in providing empowering outlets for these youth.

IMG_4436The activities in the ‘Markaz’ seek to take advantage of the opportunities that exist in these communities to meet between Arab and Jewish youth, older activists, professionals and creators. This connection enables our youth groups to undergo a politico-educational process while getting professional enrichment in a field of their choice. The purpose of the activities is to grant the youth tools for their personal empowerment, while nurturing a young generation of activists for social change. This is done through the medium of creation, bringing youth to work together on projects which are then exposed back to the communities they stem from.

The ‘Markaz’ functions along two main lines of action: one is the informal educational framework (our work with youth groups after school hours) and the other is the formal educational framework (our work in classes). These two fields are deeply interconnected given that, long term, they strengthen one another. Our work inside schools widens the scope of youth we recruit in our youth groups, thus permitting us to work with youth who would not naturally have attended such activities. In addition, our work within schools strengthens our ties with the schools’ educational staff, thus making cooperation on recruitments for our youth groups an easier process.

The groups that are active outside school hours are: theatre, music, cinema, photography and activism. The groups meet weekly, and each workshop is prepared according to our two-year educational program. The groups work mainly on the uni-national basis, meeting with their pair group once every month and a half, in our youth weekend seminars or in local bi-national meetings.

Initiatives that grew from the ‘Markaz’

‘Following the Home’ photo exhibition

Following the Home showcases the work of young photographers, Arabs and Jews from Jaffa and Bat Yam, who have been working at the Jaffa youth centre of Sadaka Reut. Photography can create dialogue between personal and collectives stories, weaving the two together. This exhibition explores ‘home’ on the personal and public levels, exposing the destruction that lies beyond view, whilst celebrating the strength within the home, in its history, rich diversity and community.

To see the exhibition, click here

‘System Ali’

System Ali is a Hip-Hop ensemble in four languages: Hebrew, Arabic, Russian and English. The band was founded in 2006 in Sadaka Reut’s youth center, a bomb-shelter in Ajami neighborhood in the city of Jaffa. Its 11 members bring to stage the charged encounters and clashes between languages, musical styles, personal stories and inspirations – drawn from the every day realities in the city of Jaffa. These are the fuel of the band’s creation and strength, establishing itself as the leading Hip-Hop crew of Jaffa and South Tel-Aviv.

For more on System Ali, click here